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Apr 18

Power In Numbers: Public Weight Loss Efforts Sweep the Nation

Power In Numbers: Public Weight Loss Efforts Sweep the NationLaura Kolodjeski

Many of us are familiar with the battle of obesity or the attempt to lose weight for one reason or another. While many people have successfully lost weight, there are plenty of others who still face challenges in their own weight loss journey (myself included).

If watching a program like “The Biggest Loser” is any indication, there is power in attempting to lose weight in a team environment and I was interested to see what types of innovative public programs are available and being used to help get larger groups of people to lose weight and take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. I found three types of programs: national efforts, city-wide efforts and financial incentive efforts. Here are the highlights of those that really sparked my interest.

National Effort

YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program: The YMCA has been around for many years as a neighborhood center for exercise and activity, and now they’re taking steps to focus specifically on trying to help people prevent type 2 diabetes.    

A trained lifestyle coach guides participants in the YMCA’s program for a 12-month period at one of its 10,000 locations across the nation. There are 16 core sessions in the program, which are then followed up by monthly sessions led by the lifestyle coach in a small class setting. The goal of the program is for participants to lose 7 percent of their body weight and gradually increase to 150 minutes of weekly activity. Healthy eating, stress reduction and problem solving are also a part of the program.

To sign up, simply visit your local YMCA.

City-Wide Effort

OKC Million: In an effort to get everyone in Oklahoma City to a healthier place and reduce obesity rankings, Mayor Mick Cornett decided to start the OKC Million challenge in 2007. The program reached its goal of having residents lose more than 1 million collective pounds earlier this year. Even Mayor Cornett lost 38 pounds during that time. And since the program has been so successful, it’s continuing.

The city’s OKC Million website allows participants, organizations and other groups to register and become a part of the shared mission toward healthier living and weight loss. There are also official OKC Million events like runs and health expos throughout the year. What a fun way to get an entire city involved in healthy activities!

Financial Incentive Efforts

HealthyWage: This program works by using a variety of financial incentives to motivate people to lose weight and get healthier. Here’s an overview of their three “challenges.”

  • The Matchup is a team competition. Each member of a five-member team pays a $60 entry fee. Teams compete over three months to see who can lose the largest percentage of weight. The top team wins $10,000, second place gets $5,000, and third takes home $3,000.
  • BMI Challenge is designed for people with a body mass index of over 30. If participants are able to get their BMI under 25 in 12 months, they win money. Those interested can participate for free and win $100, or put up $150 of their own money for the chance to win $400, or put up $300 for the chance at winning $1,000 for accomplishing their goal.
  • 10% Challenge is where participants enter $100 of their own money and win $200 if they lose 10 percent of their body weight over six months.

These are just a few examples of organized efforts to help those looking to shed some pounds and work toward a healthier lifestyle. The variety of efforts also speaks to the various types of motivations that people may need to lose weight. Not all of these weight loss programs are right for everyone, but it’s helpful to know that there are different ways you can get involved. Remember, you should always speak with your physician before starting a new exercise program or weight loss regimen to ensure it’s appropriate for you.

I would love to hear about some of the programs you have been a part of to lose weight. What is your employer, community group, city or state doing to motivate or help residents lose weight? Share your thoughts in the comments below to let us know about even more ways people can get help in reaching their healthy weight range!


Laura K.

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